On the evening of 28th August 2014, I and my wife decided to host a simple dinner for my uncle who was in Thimphu on a short visit. He is my late father’s youngest brother and he lives in Samtse. All his three daughters are in Thimphu and he was staying with them. So, we invited them all for an informal get-together. But what was expected to be a joyous family gathering ended up as a moment of humiliation and harassment for us.
We waited for them for hours until they arrived at around 08:30 PM. My uncle walked in with his eldest son-in-law and his grandchildren from his two daughters. His daughters arrived a bit late. After a brief greeting, they settled down and my wife was preparing to offer them tea. Just then, he began pouring out his grievances against us as though we had never helped them.
He said he and aunt (his wife) are not happy with us because we didn’t consult them when we bought land in Gelephu, and that we didn’t support them when they constructed their house in Samtse. He even demanded that we should have brought something for them when we returned from Australia. He was boasting about his son-in-law who had brought him a wrist-watch from Bangkok. I agree that we could not bring anything for them from Australia because they live in Samtse and we didn’t have plans to visit them immediately. Regarding the land in Gelephu, I wondered whether it was really necessary to seek their opinion because first of all, I was in Australia when I bought the land in partnership with my friend who was already in Bhutan. I agree that I could not financially support him for the construction of his house because that too was done when I was in Australia and they didn’t inform me. He was grumbling that it was only his own son and me who didn’t support him. All his daughters made the contributions.
But it does not mean that I and my wife have not supported them at all. We have been sending money as and when they request and we have never turned them down till date. As soon as we arrived in Bhutan, I called him to let him know of our safe arrival and offered to send him some money. I deposited Nu.5000 into his account and a few weeks later, I gave another nu.5000 to his youngest daughter who had just completed class XII. Although it was not a significant amount, we have been supporting them as and when required. I feel I am doing at least more than his own son, who, people say, never even calls them and hardly provides them any financial support.
In fact, I have a good reason to ignore them looking at the way they treated me as a child, but I know it won’t be morally right for me to hurt them or for that matter, anybody else for what they have done to me in the past. After my father got partially paralyzed on the left-side of the body in 1990 as a result of a mild brainstroeke, we had no option but to live with them in Samtse. For ten long years, we suffered a lot of discriminations and humiliations particularly at the hands of my aunt. If words could ever kill a person, I and my late father would have died a thousand times during those years of our ordeal. I can understand very well that it could have been very frustrating for them to look after us with the nominal monthly income of my uncle, but we would have been satisfied if we were served without a curse. Both of us were equally forced to do whatever we could to make sure that we didn’t eat for free: I fetched water, collected firewoods from around the nearby fields and worked in the fields during my winter vacation while my father herded goats, swept the surroundings and cleaned the shed daily, yet our contributions always went unacknowledged. Forget about the acknowledgement, we hardly used to get even second servings during meals and even if we did, it wouldn’t come without a curse. Due to our disability, both of us were seen as burdens in the family and always received last priority. In 2000, my father could no longer take it and left for Pasakha to live with my maternal uncle. In the same year, they had not updated my census record during the annual census. I learned from the Ministry of Home that when my name was called out, nobody responded. I think it was a deliberate attempt to let me struggle, because we have our census together and they had definitely gone to update theirs.
Sadly my father could live in peace only for five years. He had enjoyed his life to the fullest while living with my maternal uncle in Pasakha and everybody used to say he had grown physically healthier. But when I just completed my graduation in 2005, he sadly passed away due to jaundice. He was 71. When he was alive, he used to always tell me that even after his death, his soul will not be happy if I ever forgive my uncle and aunt for what they have done to us. But today, against the promise I had made to my late father and against his own wishes, I have tried to forget everything we were subjected to by them and I have been supporting them ever since I got the job in 2007. But on last Thursday evening, my old wound got pricked again. We had actually prepared to give him Nu.1000, but my wife refused to take it out after such an open humiliation in the presence of his eldest son-in-law, whom she respects as a brother. He could have scolded us on some other occasions, not when people are invited for a social gathering like this. I feel I have been always looked at negatively by them. They knew pretty well that I had left my kids with my mother-in-law in Thimphu for two years when we were in Australia, but still none of them had ever come to see them even once. I had also wanted to tell my grievances but I didn’t. Sometimes I and my wife wonder if we should learn to be more assertive and aggressive in order to get rid of people trying to take advantage of us. But I am hopeful that God might one day turn the table around and I will get the opportunity to let them realize what they have done to me and my late father. Of course, I am grateful for all the little support they provided me during my school days, but what still hurts me the most is the way they treat me. Only God knows the truth.
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